Acts 8

I've just been reading Acts ch 8. There's this great bit where Simon, a magician, hears the disciples and realises that God's power is greater than his - he's convicted by their message and their miracles, and he believes and is baptised. Not long after this he sees Peter and John laying hands on people and giving them the holy Spirit. He offers them money to give him the power to give people the Spirit too... understandably, they tell him he's got it totally wrong and urge him to repent.

What I love about it is that Simon is so human - it's so typical of us to say, "Oh, I get it now... hey, wait, what's this shiny heresy over here?" It's very comforting to know that even the best of us can get it completely wrong - but there is correction and truth in the Bible, and there is most definitely forgiveness in Jesus.

Later on in the chapter Phillip meets an Ethiopian eunuch who is reading Isaiah but doesn't understand it. Happily, Phillip is at hand to explain it to him and show how it is about Jesus. The Ethiopian believes and is baptised. I like to imagine what the Ethiopian felt when he realised that God had been working in him to prepare him to know Jesus. "Oh, so that's why I was reading a book I didn't understand, from a religious group that is nothing to do with me!" I was telling someone the other day about how I became a Christian when I was 17 - part of it involved a friend nagging me constantly to come to church with her, and me consistently refusing. One day we were walking home from school and I heard myself saying, "I've been thinking about coming to church." Even as I said it I thought, "Wait.... what?" I couldn't believe the words had come out of my mouth. It confused me at the time but made sense later, since I liked the people at the church, went back every week (willingly, this time!) and became a Christian later that year. God's preparation of us seems strange at the time but it's fantastic to look back on it later and realise that God had his hand firmly upon me the whole time... especially when I think stupid things like, "What if I hadn't gone to church in year 12 - would I be a Christian now?" The answer is yes - God was working in me and couldn't be thwarted by my flippy, spur of the moment decisions. The circumstances might have changed but the end result would have been the same.


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